Sunday 5 June 2016

Ethiopia Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time to cast my net a little wider. This time Ethiopia and a look at some of its largest settlements and most interesting names and starting with the capital.

Addis Ababa is easily translated from the Amharic addis abeba or 'new flower'. This is not a place where some striking fauna once grew, here the reference is to natural springs.

Dire Dawa is another translation from Amharic and means 'the place of remedy'.

Bahir Dar translates from the Amharic for 'sea shore'.

Arba Minch comes from the Amharic for 'forty springs'.

Debre Marqos is named after its principal church, dedicated to St Mark.

Debre Tabor takes its name from Mount Tabor, the hemispherical hill in an otherwise flat area having a name describing its shape.

Kibre Mengist takes its name from the Amharic for 'glory of the state'.

Tepi is traditionally held to be named after a Majangr man who managed a hive of bees found in a large tree in the marketplace.

Addis Zemen takes us back to the Amharic tongue and a meaning of 'new era'.

Gelemso at last provides us with a little more to say other than the simplest translation. It is thought this comes from the Oromo tongue, where galma Usso means 'the hall of Usso'. This referred to the mosque named after Usso, who came here to preach Islam to the indigenous people who called him ima gossa or 'the adopted son'.

Adis Alem is from Amharic meaning 'new world'.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.

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